[amsat-bb] 2008 was fantastic - and: a Happy New Year !

Henk, PA3GUO hamoen at iae.nl
Wed Dec 24 12:48:40 PST 2008

Dear satellite radio friends,

With the end of the year approaching, I feel the need share
how much I appreciate and enjoy all the fun we have on this
amsat-bb. Where we discuss, help, ask, and challenge eachother
with our shared love: amateur radio satellites. 2008 has again
been a truly fantastic year; just to name a few things I recall
(at the risk to overlook all those others);

2008 brought us a new, well working satellite with a transponder!
A brand new satellite where industry, university and radio-amateurs
worked together in defining, building and operating a spacecraft.
A big project where various objectives got successfully merged into
a small Cubesat. Many aspects on the behaviour of the sat to
observe and validate, at least it kept me very excited back in May:
Delfi-C3 also brought to my attention that my PC cannot share its
line-input over more than one program at the time, something to
fix in 2009 !

My favorite FM satellite to operate portable during the summer
holidays. This year I operated as OK/PA3GUO and had despite all
the QRM many fun contacts around Europe. Always a good exercise !
Its the 23cm up / 70 down modes were new for me, now I had the
(from Rob, PE1ITR borrowed) 35 elements TONNA for 23cm. I made
my first QSOs in L/U mode. For this I first needed to get 435.150
downlink working, and I built with good help of Domenico, I8CVS
a polarization switch for the old Cushcraft 70 cm antenna.
http://www.pa3guo.com/cushcraft_416tb.html Finally, the SSTV
'mode' as preparation for the ISS experiments was also new fun.
Yes, often AO51 is a lot of chaos, but next to that it has very
interesting modes to  use and explore.
Thanks to the AO51 team for keeping us busy !

As I wanted to help the project team to collect as much as
possible CW telemetry, I did set up my remote access using the
www.logmein.com  software. Now I could remotely gather & forward
the telemetry, from QRL but also while enjoying the good summer
evenings in my backyard: http://www.pa3guo.com/cute_ops_pa3guo.jpg.
PE1ITR was so kind to loan me his 23cm beam, to prepare myself
for the 23cm packet uplink of this new satellite.... it showed
that while our Japanse friends can digipeat over it I can't (yet),
so I need to review if my antenna cable is good enough
... some day in 2009.

A new satellite, that provides an SSTV beacon in space, great
for  demonstration purposes. While I have a very clumsy set-up;
holding a  microphone in front of my loudspeaker, the picture
is cool to receive. Also it transmits a 'secret' code in VOICE.
I have listened to it a thousand times, but one character I still
cannot really 'hear'. Has anyone gotten this confirmed from the
project team ? Anyway: thanks for a new satellite to experiment
with ! http://www.pa3guo.com/seeds.html

Especially in the last months a lot of new things to experiment
(and this is what amateur radio is all about right ?). SSTV
operations brought the ISS crew very close to us, remarkable
how appealing receiving pictures  with this old technology
still is. Also the voice operations by Richard were a through
inspiration. I was there to hear him talking for the first time
with his dad while he was flying over Europe, and his dad in
Moscow ground control. Also new packet modes: 9k6 worked SO good.
A good back-up communication system for Emergency Communication
(or SSET as Bob would call this :-)) The last few days of the
year also promise new tests  with the repeater mode in 23cm uplink
configuration: let's see how the D700 receives at 1.2GHz !

The old lady is running out of batteries, but is today still
the only APRS  satellite that we have flying around 24/7 in
this mode. Even though we slowly lose control due to the
automatic resets, we still LEARN a lot regarding how to
operate in bad conditions (looking at angle of the sun for
optimum power, radio channel clearance etc). PCSAT is also
still a good test vehicle for anyone to set-up a fully automated
tracking station (read: have a receiver listening 24/7 to
145.825 and Igate all received traffic to the internet).
Having this available NOW is a good way to be prepared for
anything unexpected (eg. emergencies). On one hand very easy,
on the other hand it looks simpler as it is (keep a PC running
24/7 un-attended and not to loose the internet link). Good stuff... !

Always fascinating to hear the 10mtr signals travelling all
the way from space into my small wire antenna, amazing how
clear CW sounds !

Haven't really figured out yet what its use for me will be,
but it sure is  another strong signal that can serve as
a testvehicle for stuff like automated  antenna tracking,
doppler correction, telemetry decoding and storage.

Have seen great support from the amateur community: first of all
Mike, DK3WN, who is clearly in the lead helping out the university
controlling the satellite. Great that when Mike asked for help,
many HAMs around  the world stepped in and tried to 'save' Compass.
For me: to be able to  decode the MSK downlink of Compass I need
to connect the radio's audio to my PC. Missing for that is a proper
(optical) audio interface, this is now  my holiday project in the
next 2 weeks... will keep me busy for while :-)

... you won't believe it, but only this year I made my first
contact via AO-27. Folks QRV here you don't hear on the other
FM sat's. Great bird !

After 18 years in space, I finally made my first QSO via this
satellite.  Fantastic idea of the AO16 team to have the satellite
configured as  FM/SSB transponder ! http://www.pa3guo.com/ao16.html

Looking back 2008 was a truly exciting year with many new satellites,
as well as new modes of operations of existing satellites.
Most important;
a year of a lot of new satellite radio-friends via this AMSAT-BB !

HAM radio remains for me both a source of inspiration, as well as
a hobby shared with many good friends around the world.

I wish all of you a Healthy & Happy New Year !

Warm regards,
Henk, PA3GUO

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